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City Council meeting: Downtown restroom location to be discussed in two months

By Bob Conrad

The Reno City Council today heard discussion on the public restroom slated for Bicentennial Park downtown. A decision on where, exactly, the Portland Loo will end up won’t be made for at least two months, however.

The downtown Rotary club was opposed to putting a Portland Loo at the park. Members of the club yesterday met with city staff to discuss other options. A statement online indicated other options would be explored.

“A number of places have been identified through the One Truckee River plan for suitability,” City Manager Doug Thornley told This Is Reno. He said more outreach would be conducted in the next 60 days.

Arlington bridge construction could determine where the restroom gets placed. The next scheduled installation of a restroom will be at John Champion Park. The third was the Bicentennial Park location.

Construction on the bridge, however, is not scheduled to start until at least 2025, according to Washoe RTC’s website about the project. 

“The two primary goals of the [One Truckee River plan] are increasing the number of public restrooms available along the river, and implementing a vegetation management plan along the river,” city staff said.

City to return to in-person meetings 

Most all council members are still attending city council meetings virtually. This is after the city decided to go virtual again in the wake of the omicron surge.

Council member Naomi Duerr, however, said in March there could be a return to in-person meetings.

In response to a tweet today by This Is Reno noting only council member Jenny Brekhus was in council chambers for today’s meeting, council member Devon Reese said This Is Reno “is not an objective news source when it comes to [Jenny Brekhus].”

He alleged this was “related to advertising dollars or political ideology or being a source” and that it’s “obvious to the most casual of observers.”

Reese also said in-person council meetings would amount to “theater.” He attended the Community Homeless Advisory Board meeting Monday, in person. 

Reese regularly criticizes Brekhus online and during council meetings. This Is Reno reported no members were in attendance at a council meeting last fall. That was before the city announced it was returning to virtual meetings. 

Brekhus explained online why she wasn’t there. Reese, in response, accused her of “vampiric consumption.”

He said This Is Reno’s reporting of the council no-show in September was “not news.” But public commenters at the meeting expressed frustration at having to speak to council members on a giant screen.

“I’m addressing a virtual council like I’m on the Starship Enterprise when we’re talking about banning whips outside in the streets and we don’t have a place for our most vulnerable people to go,” a public commenter said at the time.

Other council actions

Provided by city of Reno staff and edited for readability.

Black History Month proclamation

The council held a City of Reno, Nevada Proclamation dedicating February 2022 as Black History Month. Jessica Vann, president of the Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society (NNBCAS), thanked the council for its support and invited the community to two upcoming events. Those are the Summer of Soul: A Look at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art through Feb. 27 and the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gala on Monday, Feb. 28.

Clean energy 

The council adopted a resolution that allows commercial property owners to establish a single tract special assessment to fund energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects

Veteran fitness 

Council members approved a contract worth up to $62,500 from the Department of Veterans Affairs for Fit but not Forgotten veteran fitness program for five years. The classes are normally held at the Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center.

North Valleys commerce center 

Council approved to uphold the recommendation of the city’s planning commission and refer the ordinance for a second reading and adoption. The ordinance introduction rezones a 256-acre site comprising 14 parcels to industrial commercial. The site is located on the north and south sides of North Virginia Street, near the intersection with Doubleback Road.

Reno Vulcanizing alley abandonment

Council determined that the public will not be materially injured by approving an alleyway abandonment subject to certain conditions. The abandonment is of the public alleyway located south of East Sixth Street, between North Virginia Street and North Center Street. 

Opioid lawsuit

Council approved a recommendation from the Attorney General’s Office to settle with four opioid distributors, but the settlement does not end city or state litigation against other named plaintiffs, including opioid marketers, promoters, manufacturers, distributors and dispensers.

Washoe RTC projects

Council heard a presentation and approved a Washoe Regional Transportation Commission agreement for RTC’s city projects. Projects include roadway rehabilitation, traffic signal improvements, the Keystone Avenue bridge replacement and widening South Virginia Street.

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